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The Morning After: Tesla’s Autopilot is now under federal investigation

Plus, Intel's first discrete graphics card and Jeff Bezos sues NASA (again).

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Daniel Cooper
August 17th, 2021
In this article: themorningafter, gear, newsletter
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 05:  Tesla vehicles sit parked outside of a new Tesla showroom and service center in Red Hook, Brooklyn on July 5, 2016 in New York City. The electric car company and its CEO and founder Elon Musk have come under increasing scrutiny following a crash of one of its electric cars while using the controversial autopilot service. Joshua Brown crashed and died in Florida on May 7 in a Tesla car that was operating on autopilot, which means that Brown's hands were not on the steering wheel. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt via Getty Images

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system. Since 2018, Tesla cars driven by Autopilot have crashed into first-responder vehicles on 11 separate occasions, causing 17 injuries and one fatality. Given that first responders vehicles have flashing lights, arrow boards and road cones, officials are concerned the system lulls drivers into a false sense of security.

The NHTSA will now investigate how Tesla’s Autopilot system studies the road and, more importantly, ensures drivers engage with what’s going on. This could be the first brick in the road toward tougher supervision of all autonomous and semi-autonomous driver assistance systems. After all, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has already criticized Tesla for beta-testing its product on public roads with very little oversight.

— Dan Cooper

Intel Arc, the company's first gaming GPUs, will debut in 2022

Intel wants to compete with AMD and NVIDIA in the discrete graphics space.

Intel Arc

For years, Intel has wanted a piece of NVIDIA’s (and AMD’s) discrete graphics card business, and now we know a little bit more about its plan. The struggling chip giant has announced it will release hardware under the Intel Arc name, with its first card due to arrive at the start of 2022. The first GPU, currently codenamed Alchemist, will offer hardware-based ray tracing and mesh shading and support DirectX 12 Ultimate. As part of the announcement, it also showed off a sizzle reel of games running on its new silicon which, unsurprisingly, looked pretty good. Continue Reading.

Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders review: Not for most people

At least, not while half of its headline features remain unavailable.

The Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders with its rear facing the camera against a yellow background.
Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Earlier this year, Qualcomm and ASUS announced the snappily named Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders. It’s an ultra-premium smartphone designed, in theory, for diehards who expect their Android phones to be a cut above whatever else is on the market. Now, Engadget’s Cherlynn Low has put the phone through its paces and found a handset that was simply too undercooked to review. With a number of headline features not yet available to test, the end result is a device that, right now, can’t justify its high price. Continue Reading.

Anonymous chat app Yik Yak is back from the dead

Hopefully shorn of the bullying that sank its original version.

Yik Yak
Yik Yak

YikYak was, or is, an anonymous messaging app that only let you communicate with people in a five-mile radius. Unfortunately, the anonymity offered meant it quickly became a hotbed for abuse, and it shut down in 2017. Now it’s back, equipped with a whole new set of guardrails designed to stop its communities becoming toxic. It’s only currently available for iOS in the US but is expected to grow in the near future. It’ll need to work very hard to coax everyone away from their current social media platforms of choice. Continue Reading.

Blue Origin takes NASA to court over SpaceX lunar lander contract

We regret to inform you that Bezos is, once again, suing someone.

VAN HORN, TEXAS - JULY 20: Jeff Bezos speaks about his flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard into space during a press conference on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas. Mr. Bezos and the  crew that flew with him were the first human spaceflight for the company. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle via Getty Images

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has filed a complaint against NASA, saying the way it picked a contractor for the Human Landing System was unfair. It’s the second time in a month the company has launched a courtroom brace against NASA after officials picked SpaceX for its lunar lander contract. This was after Bezos essentially offered the US government a $2 billion discount to put Blue Origin at the front of the line. Unfortunately, this latest complaint will force work on the Artemis lander to be put on hold, which may mean NASA misses its 2024 goal of returning to the moon. Continue Reading.

But wait, there's more.

Android 12 beta feature lets you control your phone with your face

MIT developed a low-cost prosthetic hand that can help amputees feel again

A new tuna robot could lead to more agile and efficient underwater drones

Wikipedia vandal adds swastikas to 53,000 pages

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